Meeting in The Hague commemorates pioneer of a UN Parliamentary Assembly

9. December 2011

Discussion on Erskine Childers’ recommendations for renewing and democratizing the UN at 15th anniversary of his death

The renewing and democratizing of the UN was the subject of an event held on Tuesday in The Hague to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of Erskine Childers, an Irish citizen and one of the UN’s “most outstanding international civil servants”,

Erskine Childers (1994/5)
Image: E. Childers

as the keynote speaker, Jan Pronk, remarked.

Mr Pronk, himself a former UN official and former Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation who knew Childers, gave a sketch of the ideals originally underlying the UN’s foundation and described the development of the world organization. Referring to a collection of Childers’ speeches that was recently published by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Mr Pronk highlighted the broad range of recommendations that Childers put forward in order to strengthen the UN. “Childers always reminded his audiences of the roots of the UN that tend to be forgotten. The UN was intended to play a central role in international economic and social affairs. However, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now the WTO, were allowed to escape from any meaningful central coordination. Just as in the days of Erskine Childers, we still need a new San Francisco conference that rearranges the United Nations and the Bretton Woods system”, the professor at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague said.

Erskine Childers was “one of the strongest advocates of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly after the Cold War”, the other speaker, Andreas Bummel, pointed out. The Secretary-General of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly presented the proposal and stressed that Childers considered the idea to be “the ultimately most important reform in the UN system” because the assembly would create a direct link between the world organization and the world’s peoples. “As Childers knew, this would create an unprecedented positive momentum”, Mr Bummel said.

In 1996 until his untimely death in the same year, Childers served as Secretary-General of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA). Ten years later, in memory of Childers, WFUNA adopted a resolution that expressed the organization’s support for the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly.

The event was jointly organized by the World Federalist Movement of the Netherlands (WFBN) and the Dutch United Nations Association (NVVN). The discussion was moderated by Yvonne Donders, Chair of NVVN and professor at the University of Amsterdam.

Collected speeches and articles of Erskine Childers

Pictures of the event

Top image: Marjolijn Snippe at the opening of the event, by Nicola Fraccaroli